How to Make an Owl Mask, #1

How to Make an Owl Mask I started making an owl mask this week.

Why an owl mask? Because that’s what got my main character into so much trouble in the first book in my Utah O’Brien Minnesota Mysteries series. Now my second cozy mystery novel has been published, I decided to celebrate by making a copy of the owl mask that played such a big part in my character’s amateur detecting career.

If you’d like to see that drawing I made of the Great Horned Owl, you can find it here (PDF).

The links to the three other posts in this series are down below.

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You can see another owl mask behind me in the video, hanging up next to the baby animal dolls. That’s the one I included in my mask book. That owl mask would be fun to take to a masquerade ball or fancy dress party.

The one I’m making now will be a display mask to put on a wall. I have two reasons for that —

  1. Utah O’Brien made display masks to sell on her fictional online craft store; and
  2. My house has run out of room for sculptures that sit on shelves or tables. If I want to create sculptures of any kind and actually keep them, I have to put them on the wall  — or buy a bigger house.

In this first video, you’ll see me create a clay sketch of the owl’s face. I’m calling it a sketch because I think it’s important to not take your first efforts too seriously. Once you have the basic shapes mapped out in soft clay, you then have something you can work with and change as needed.

If you feel too attached to the sculpture too soon, it’s easy to add paper mache before your clay model is ready. Then you stand back and look at your ‘finished’ sculpture and say, “Oops.”

A writer whose name I can’t remember said that you can always fix a first draft, but you can’t fix a blank page. That’s why first drafts are so important – not because they’ll ever be perfect, but because it gives you something to work with. The same is true of the first stages in any art project.

When you make your ‘first draft’ of your owl mask, go ahead and play around with the clay, change things, take a step back, turn it around, turn it upside down, and make more changes. Even if you completely finish it, paper mache and all, and it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, just throw it out and make another one. I do that all the time.

I hope I don’t have to do that this time, though, with so many people are looking over my shoulder as I work. 😉

Three More Videos – See How the Mask Was Made and How it Came Out:


5 thoughts on “How to Make an Owl Mask, #1”

  1. Hi Jonni again – you know those white parott like birds that look like bigger, fatter cockateils? You know they bob their head a lot and have fluffy high feathers on their foreheads that point up and forward towards their rather large beaks? I wish you would do a tutorial for one of those for a wall hanging. Those are very beautiful.

  2. Love the owl mask Jonni. How are you?

    I am thinking I want to try it. Question = can you do this process of plastiline over store bought plastic masks and then paper mache over them to complete the process like in the video. Or maybe the plastiline can be skipped and just paper machine over the plastic mask. What kind of release would you use over a store bought plastic mask?

    • Hi Joanne. Yes, you can put the paper mache over a plastic mask. A light coating of petroleum jelly should help get the paper mache off the plastic form without trouble. Or you can use the plastiline over the mask, and then paper mache – either way will work.


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